I didn’t see the girl until she hit my windshield. Then I saw nothing but the girl. In the split second that lasted a lifetime, I saw that she wasn’t dead. Panic speared through my chest. I got out of my car. I didn’t feel the rain.
“Are you okay? Oh my god.” Traffic moved around us. It was after 5 pm in February in the midwest. “Oh my god. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
She stood up straight. Her eyes were wide. “I’m okay.”
“I’ll take you to the hospital,” I said. “I’m really sorry.” There is no blood, but she holds her arm close to her. “I didn’t see…” I shut up. She didn’t need to hear my excuses. We were in an intersection. I was making a right turn on a red light. There were no cars coming, but she had been standing on the other sign of the walk/don’t walk pole. “What do you want? I do anything. Can I take you to the hospital? Home?”
She shook her head. “I’m okay. You can…you can take me home.”
I help her into my car. “You sure you don’t want to see a doctor? I’ll pay. I’m sorry.” I said this again and again as if saying it enough times would keep me from throwing up. I couldn’t believe I’d hit someone with my car.
I dropped her off. She told me not to walk her to the door. She gave me her name and all that information and I gave her mine. She said she’d call me if she went to a doctor. I told her she probably should go, but who was I to make her do anything? I could’ve killed her.
Later, when I picked myself up off the floor of my apartment, I called the police to file a report. She’d already called them. She’d gone to the ER the police told me. She had bruises and pulled muscles, but nothing serious, they said. Except for being hit by a car, I thought. What if I’d been driving faster?
Writing something hurtful about a loved one isn’t exactly like hitting someone with your car–or maybe it is. And maybe you write something hurtful on accident because you aren’t paying attention. Maybe you’re a psychopath who likes knocking people down and backing over them.
All I wanted to do that evening was get home after two hours in a horrible grad school class. But getting home wasn’t worth possibly killing someone. What is it worth to get to the truth when you have a story to tell? Are there people out there worth stepping on the gas for?